I was reading Paul’s letter Philemon the other day and verse 9 hit me.
He writes to Phil (can I call him Phil?):
Though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do your duty, yet I would rather appeal to you on the basis of love (8-9).
It’s probably the easier way to get things done around church, to command people to do their duty, to be the pastor that uses her authority to get things done his way.
The reason why it struck me is that as a pastor, we do have a lot of authority to get things done our way. And because we have this authority, because we have this power, sometimes a few pastors take advantage of it, and a few will even abuse it.
As Henri Nouwen wrote:
Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love. It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life.
For me, reading this, Paul went from a pastor to a servant leader (and it’s a shame that there are a few of us out there who are pastors but not servant leaders), because instead of commanding Phil, he appealed to Phil and therefore place himself under (below) Phil.
This served as a great reminder to me, because it is easier to try to control people than to love people. There are moments when I think, “because I’m the pastor!” but am quickly reminded that’s the same thing as my parents saying “because I told you so!”
It’s imperative for me to remember that love is the most important aspect of my ministry, that love “binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Col 3:14)
Let’s hope that I’ll always remember to appeal on the basis of love.
Have a blessed Easter tomorrow, everyone.